In Memos to Quell Doubters, the Biden Campaign Touts Alarming Poll Results

President Joe Biden appeared feeble and occasionally confused during the first 2024 presidential debate last week. Since then, Biden’s campaign and allies have admitted he had a poor showing, but they argue the state of the race is still the same: He is still locked in a close contest with former President Donald Trump, and nothing has fundamentally changed.

In emails to journalists and supporters this weekend, the Biden campaign declared that “for all the hand-wringing coming out of Thursday, here’s the truth: This election was incredibly close before Thursday, and by every metric we’ve seen since, it remains just as close.” Both campaign emails pointed to new surveys from CNN, 538, SurveyUSA, Morning Consult, and Data for Progress, arguing they “show what we expected: The debate did not change the horse race.”

This is true — the polls all show a tight race. On the other hand, the surveys include blaring alarms for Democrats: They show most voters think Biden isn’t fit to be president, is too old, and should be replaced by another Democrat on the 2024 ticket.

“The question at the ballot box will be Trump or Biden,” a Biden adviser tells Rolling Stone. “The campaign’s job has to be to continue to define that choice.”

Consider this finding from Data for Progress: “Voters are more concerned about Biden’s age than Trump’s criminal charges.” The poll found that a majority of likely voters, 53 percent, is more concerned about Biden’s age and mental and physical health than about Trump’s criminal charges and threats to democracy.

According to the survey results, a full two-thirds of voters responded that Biden is too old to be president. The poll notes this “does not represent a significant change from when Data for Progress previously surveyed this question before and after the State of the Union” — which may or may not be reassuring.

The 538 poll found that after the debate, only 20 percent of likely voters said that Biden has the mental fitness to be president, and 15 percent said he has the physical fitness to be president. Nearly 60 percent of likely voters said Biden has “poor” or “terrible” mental or physical fitness.

CNN’s poll found that 59 percent of registered voters have no real confidence in Biden’s ability to lead the country — a figure that increased by four points after the debate. Asked if they would consider voting for Biden, 58 percent of registered voters responded no.

The SurveyUSA poll asked if Biden is up to the job of being president for the next four years — 57 percent of likely voters responded no, compared to 29 percent who said yes.

The Morning Consult poll found that, among voters who watched the debate, 63 percent believe that Biden should be replaced as the Democratic nominee for president; 62 percent said Biden is not mentally fit; 68 percent said he is not in good health; and 78 percent said he is too old.

The polls all show a close race between Biden and Trump. They also confirm that Biden’s age and health are major potential problems for his reelection bid.

While Biden’s campaign and his allies have firmly rejected any talk he could leave the Democratic ticket, NBC News reported Saturday evening that Biden and his family are expected to discuss the future of his reelection campaign at Camp David on Sunday.

The campaign projected confidence in its memo to reporters on Saturday: “This will be a very close election. It was always going to be. It will be won by breaking through and talking to voters every single day, making our case to them about just how high the stakes are and who is fighting for them … It’s the relentless work we’re doing on the ground to get our winning message out that makes us confident President Biden will win this race and beat Donald Trump.”

In the email to supporters, the campaign disparagingly wrote, “The bedwetting brigade is calling for Joe Biden to ‘drop out.’ That is the best possible way for Donald Trump to win and us to lose.”

The Biden campaign email included a graphic from the Data for Progress poll showing other potential Democratic candidates, including Vice President Kamala Harris, matched up against Trump, arguing a change would create “chaos.” The campaign added that “at the end of the day, we’d switch to candidates who would, according to polls, be less likely to win than Joe Biden — the only person ever to defeat Donald Trump.”

The image from the Data for Progress survey, however, noted that “leading Democrats fare similarly in head-to-heads against Trump.”

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